Anek, is a film that will be talked abbout for years.
Anek so titled to convey the unity-in-diversity theme of Indianness, also because the N and the E in Anek stands for the state and culture defined by Anubhav Sinha’s undefinably ambivalent drama about a state and culture on the brink.
There are no easy solutions, no sides to taken and to be honest, none offered in a state where the meek shall definitely not inherit the earth.
There is a dangerously corrupt and subversive North Eastern leader Sanga((Loitongbam Dorendra Singh) who is playing a double-edged game with the people of his State. He pretends to be their messiah while negotiating with the Indian government on terms that have nothing to do with peace.
Anek is cinema of the highest order. It lays bare the unspoilt virginal landscape of the North East(the cinematography by Ewan Mulligan is lush but austere and unadorned) and then quickly, without losing time introduces us to the violence that is all around in the North East.
There is a chilling sequence where Indian armed forces open fire on local insurgents while a group of schoolgoing children cower in the crossfire.Watching this sequence in a film that revels in the vividness of despoliation , I was reminded of the children that lost their lives in the Texas massacre. Unlike children who grow up in unrest, those poor angels in Texas didn’t know how to save themselves when violence strikes suddenly.
Among many seething political issues that are pushed to the forefront in a fusillade of concepts and ideas, the theme that emerges most powerfully in Anek is the weaponization of the young who take to the gun and cannot turn back. The adolescent Niko(Thejasevor Belho) gets sucked into a life of violence, while Aido(Andrea Kevichüs), with those large expressive eyes, escapes to become a boxing champion.
Riveted at the vortex of the violence is Ayushmann Khurrana’s Joshua who is not sure if he wants to protect the local population from politics and politicians or whether his interest in playing savior to a persecuted race is more personal.
Anek parks its angst at the dead-centre of ambivalence. It has neither the patience not the bandwidth to explain the volatile situation to the conflicted characters, let alone to the audience. This is a film that demands an educated literate audience which can tell the difference between Pure Cinema and its hybridized films that flood the movie theatres these days.